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Durga Puja Memories - Arpita Banerji


Durga Puja meant different things to me at different times. The earliest memories are those from Delhi. Pujo meant buying or being gifted with a lot of new clothes and other gifts. As the first born of the new generation on both sides of the family, I was badly pampered by grandparents, uncles and aunts.  Having a birthday in October only made things better.

Pre pujo shopping would involve going to Sarojini Nagar and Karol Bagh in the crowded DTC buses. Although clothes were bought all year round for occasions such as Poela Baishakh, Jamai Shashti and just like that, the prized possessions were purchased for Durga Puja and came packaged in paper boxes. I would sleep with my boxed possessions next to my pillow and open them up repeatedly and meticulously repack them. Another thing omnipresent with Durga Puja during my primary school days was the months of rehearsal in the preceding months. I don’t remember much about the actual Durga Puja days other than my stage performances, the dressing up and the anxiety of waiting in the wings to perform.

The fondest memories of Durga Puja are those of the years spent in Baroda during teenage and college. They were the wonder years when the world around seemed more beautiful, things flew in slow motion, the autumn breeze blew a little gentler, the sunshine was a little brighter and the moonlit nights more romantic than ever.

Durga Puja season had a dual purpose in Baroda – Durga Puja and Navratri. It meant double the excitement, double the preparation and double the enjoyment! It meant days and nights of frenzied activities and ready to drop dead on the Bijoya Dashami / Dussehra. The preparations started as early as August during the Raksha Bandhan sale. It meant buying new clothes for Durga Puja and buying Chaniya Cholis for Navratri. Accompanied with the totally different type of clothes was the requirement of different types of accessories. The apprehension of whether I would be able to pull it off as the girl who would make more heads turn than any other would climax as the days came nearer. It meant endless instances of dressing up in front of the mirror, accessories, makeup, hairdo et al. to get that perfect look. The look had to be different in each occasion,

Durga Puja mornings meant crisp cotton salwar kameez or sarees in pastels with the toned down Bangali Meye look. Evenings gave way to more vivid colors and designs with a louder makeup. Nights were reserved for the riot of colors for the Navratri attire teamed with more rustic jewellery. The three transformations during 24 hours accompanied with the enthusiasm in the heart and the resplendence in the looks is something that I could pull off only as a teen or young adult. Does that mean that I don’t care about getting that perfect look anymore and don’t feel the need to rehearse in front of the mirror? Well, if there was time …..



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